An Historical Overview
Prepared by Project North (B.C.), 1991, Victoria, B.C. Thanks to Mavis Gillie for all her work.
On the 29th of March 1778, the British ships Resolution and Discovery sailed into a narrow passage between a large island and a coast lined with tall trees. They came looking for wood, food, and water. A sailor recounted the scene:
The "Nootka" were the Nuu-chah-nulth people and their songs declared the land and the sea as far west as the horizon and as far east as the mountains to be the territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth. The strangers were welcomed as guests, even though their appearance was strange to the native eye. To those in the canoes the massive ships appeared to be houses.
The lives of native people have changed drastically since contact with Europeans two hundred years ago. This brief historical overview does not attempt detailed exploration of the many profound implications of "contact" for both the native and non-native cultures of British Columbia. The purpose is to relate the highlights of the relationship and to sketch broadly the implications of mutual histories. Since there are many different native cultures, diverse in history, language, and custom within B.C., only general observations are made.